Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 29, 2007

HOMOPHOBIA?....I have to admit, I'm puzzled by the reaction in some corners to what seemed like one of the more amusing and lighthearted moments of last night's debate.

NPR's Michel Martin asked the candidates, "[W]hat is the plan to stop and to protect these young people from this scourge?" When it was Joe Biden's turn, the senator suggested the key to combating AIDS is prevention: "I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS. There's no shame in being tested for AIDS. It's an important thing."

The audience laughed nervously. When Biden was done with his answers, Obama, smiling, interjected.

OBAMA: Tavis, Tavis, Tavis, I just got to make clear -- I got tested with Michelle. (Laughter, applause.)

SMILEY: Ah.

OBAMA: In -- when we were in Kenya in Africa. So I don't want any confusion here about what's going on. (Applause continues.)

SMILEY: All right.

BIDEN: And I got tested to save my life, because I had 13 pints of blood transfusion.

OBAMA: I was tested with my wife.

SMILEY: And I'm sure Michelle appreciates you clarifying it.

OBAMA: In public. (Laughter.)

Everyone laughed; the debate continued. Today, however, Obama is being accused of homophobia, which strikes me as off-base.

TNR's Alexander M. Belenky said Obama "doesn't want anyone to get the impression that he's on the down-low." Lane Hudson said it was a "frat-boy moment," adding that Obama revealed "some level of homophobia."

My take on it was entirely different. Obama seemed to be saying that Biden's comment might have left the impression that he got an AIDS test because he'd had sex with someone else. But why assume he was referring to a man? Isn't it just as likely Obama wanted to "clarify" so that no one would think he'd had an affair with another woman?

The criticism seems misplaced. How did everyone else perceive the comments?

Steve Benen 2:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (98)

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Comments

I thought of it exactly the same as you did--he wanted to clarify that he had not had an affair with another woman.

Posted by: BA on June 29, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Agree

Posted by: T on June 29, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I assumed point was faithfulness to his wife.

Posted by: David in NY on June 29, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I wish these stupid debates go away. What the point? They are all the same really except for some minor issues. They are all the same. It comes down to who you/voters like to vote for next year. Stop the insanity.

Posted by: bob on June 29, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

This is politics these days. Throw something out there and see if it sticks.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett on June 29, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

And wait -- didn't Obama specifically say that one problem with AIDS prevention was homophobia in the Black community? I mean, c'mon ... let's consider the whole picture.

Posted by: David in NY on June 29, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Obama was just trying to make sure listeners knew he did not have sex with multiple partners. In Kenya, as in much of Africa, AIDS has long ceased being an automatic indication of homosexuality.

The reason Obama got tested in Kenya was to show Kenyans how easy it was and that it was a responsible thing to do.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 29, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed. The whole exchange seemed to me to be about marital fidelity. Hence the references to his wife and the fact that she would appreciate the clarification. Seems to me the finger-pointers here are the ones automatically associating HIV with gay people.

Posted by: Dave on June 29, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely - he wanted to make it clear he got tested with his wife to encourage those in Kenya to do the same -- not because he'd had an affair, regardless of gender.

Posted by: cms on June 29, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I agree. He said he went with his wife, so I assume he was just making the point that he wasn't cheating on his wife. If you assume that Obama was referring to getting AIDS from men -- when he said no such thing explicitly -- what does that say about your own prejudices regarding the disease? I realize people might be trying to guess what other (homophobic) people are thinking rather than saying what they are thinking themselves, but the context of the quote doesn't bear this out at all. Its not like this was some sort of anti-gay dog whistle comment. If anything, saying Obama's remark was homophobic legitimizes the view that AIDS is a gay disease.

Posted by: ibid on June 29, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my. Only a bunch of whiney lefties would ever worry about this nonsense. Who cares?

Posted by: pnut on June 29, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Biden carefully explained that he got tested because he'd had a blood transfusion; why isn't he being accused of homophobia?

Obama emphasized that he and Michelle had been tested in Kenya. I assume they did this as a public demonstration to legitimize AIDS testing in a country where 85 percent of AIDS cases are heterosexual, and that this is why he made a point of their having the test done in Kenya.

It seems to me that if there's any homophobia involved here, it's among those who are criticizing Obama; they're the ones who are apparently assuming that AIDS is exclusively a gay disease.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 29, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I thought he was making a joke that he did not have sex with Joe Biden. He didn't mean anything by his comment, and people should lighten up and quit trying to read more into trivial comments to satisfy their own prejudices.

Posted by: Qwerty on June 29, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

The entire military gets tested on an annual basis. BFD. Nothing to see here...move on.

Posted by: RSV on June 29, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I would say it was a faithfulness joke. Remember, AIDS isn't just for gays now.

Posted by: Russell on June 29, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't see the debate, but what I got out of this was that Obama was making a joke that he got tested with his wife - and not with *Biden*.

Posted by: Chris on June 29, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I assumed it was a joke. Why are we even talking about this? Well, speaking of jokes, you did mention TNR...

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 29, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I interpreted in the same way you did, Steve. The comment/joke was about adultery. Do people not understand that you can get AIDS from heterosexual sex?

Posted by: Crust on June 29, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

he wanted to make it clear he got tested with his wife to encourage those in Kenya to do the same

He is willing to loan his wife out for aids testing in Kenya? Whattaguy!

Posted by: Tripp on June 29, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently pnut this is just the kind of horseshit that whackjob neocons love to make into some kind of story.

Posted by: Gandalf on June 29, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

It is not homophobic at all.

He was making a joke to clarify that he had not had sex with Joe Biden. Had Hillary said I got tested and Obama got tested, Obama could have made the same comment and it would have been just as funny (because he is clarifying that he wasnt having sex with HRC).

Posted by: yep on June 29, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Biden should keep his mouth shut regarding other candidates' personal lives. He spends too much time in DC bath houses, which I first read about in the Washington Monthly.

Posted by: Brojo on June 29, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Biden had just finished saying there's no shame in getting an AIDS test.

Then Obama undermined the argument with a joke.

Which led to Biden contradicting his own premise.

I'd say the continuing stigma of AIDS testing was the winner here.

Posted by: Mimir on June 29, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The internet can be defined as the place where stories like this and Romney's 25-year old automotive dogshit anecdote are regarded with the same degree of seriousness as the suspension of habeas corpus.

Posted by: lampwick on June 29, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Obama was not being homophobic, and I'm pretty sensitive to that kind of thing. He mentioned earlier that homophobia in poor black neighborhoods is retarding AIDS prevention.

I have a question, though. If Obama and Mrs. O. have been monogamous over the long term, what's the sense in getting tested? Are people in Kenya that easily led?

The best line in the transcript was Dodd's "I'll take global warming for 600 here."

Posted by: Hal on June 29, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

My impression is that Biden doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut in the first place and to mention that Obama had had it done was beyond rude.

It is a personal thing regardless of the reason. Obama was blindsided and only Biden has so little common sense to finger someone else without realizing all possible implications.

Posted by: Mudge on June 29, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

[Dangerously ignorant comment deleted]

Posted by: ed_finnerty on June 29, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

brojo,

Do you have a citation for Biden being seen in DC bath houses?

Posted by: Hal on June 29, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

My first reaction was thinking it was an obvious (albeit not malicious) homophobic joke, which bothered me because a) I'm gay and b) Obama is my favorite candidate. But now I'm not so sure I was right; people here make a decent argument for it being a joke about marital fidelity. I'm going to just call it an unsolved mystery and move on.

Posted by: Jesse on June 29, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Definitely read it as fidelity to his wife, as did probably everyone in the audience. No idea where these people came up with the "homophobia" angle.

Posted by: Ben Bartlett on June 29, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I spend too much time razzing and getting razzed by my juvenile friends, but when Biden said "I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS" my first reaction was "Biden had sex with Obama?"

Obviously it's clear what Biden meant, but his clumsy formulation, to me at least, is to blame here more than anything.

Posted by: gorillagogo on June 29, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

ed_finnerty,

Huh? Your data source please?

Posted by: optical weeni on June 29, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Obama explicitly, and specifically, noted that the black community doesn't talk about the issue of AIDS in part due to homophobia. He as much as said the word. That is a difficult and honorable thing to do; I think that's much more the story than him joking about not sleeping around.

Posted by: SDM on June 29, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Ed Finnerty, for the info. I feel stupid for having eaten all these damn pills for months for nothing.

Posted by: Ervin Magic Johnson on June 29, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you get tested by default everytime you donate blood?

In retrospect it would have been better if Obama just made a point about he and his wife demonstrating how easy it is to get tested at an AIDS awareness event in Africa. It would have demonstrated some foreign policy initiative.

If you want to misinterpret it, maybe you could treat it as a tacit confession that he and is wife are both being swingers, prostitutes, or IV drug users.

Posted by: B on June 29, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

to mention that Obama had had it done was beyond rude. It is a personal thing regardless of the reason.

It's not exactly "personal" when you get it done in public at a mobile AIDS clinic in Kenya. There were several news stories about this, including in the Boston Globe. The whole point of the Obamas getting tested was to publicize AIDS testing and destigmatize it.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 29, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Biden's comment could have left the impression that he and Obama went together to get the AIDS tests as some new couples do at the beginning of their relationship. Obama was making sure that was not the impression people had.

Posted by: Rosali on June 29, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that there are certain lefties who jump at any opportunity to smear Obama. Obama just isn't white and atheist enough for them. We should weed these lefties out and send them where they really belong -- in the GOP.

Posted by: Disputo on June 29, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I think the key to Obama's comments revolve around his time spent in Africa. I had a friend who was in the Peace Corps in Africa for two years. One of the things they warned the men about going over there is that the prostitutes are very aggressive with their hard sell tactics, and that men without a wedding band were considered legitimate targets. He went over there with a story about how he was married to a girl back home, but without the wedding ring he would be hounded up and down the streets by the prostitutes. After about a month he had a ring shipped out to him just to help him deal with that, and while the number of solicitations went down, they did not go away completely.

With that in mind, consider the epic proportions of AIDS in Africa, and keep in mind that it is passed through unprotected sex. It's a big risk over there, and when I read Obama's statement on it the first thing I thought of was my friend's experiences with hard-selling prostitutes. It says that maybe something happened, but he got tested and he's clean.

Posted by: Chris Smith on June 29, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, that's the same impression I got.

Posted by: Xanthippas on June 29, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, no one here gives a good goddamn about the hurt feelings of Joe Biden. Obama's comment was a ruthless smackdown of the possible impression that he'd knocked boots with Joe. The Permatanned Walking Hair Plug, who can't get enough of himself, was cruelly dissed and none of you even cares.

Posted by: shortstop on June 29, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

My first thought was that it was a homophobic comment, but I think that's because the report of the exchange that I read made it sound like Obama and Biden went together to get tested. I still don't care because I think Obama's got bigger faults (like his lack of leadership).

Posted by: NealB on June 29, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I, too, am baffled by the interpretation of this comment as homophobic. At the risk of being called homophobic myself, I think we all have the tendency to view the world through our own personal struggles. In other words, I can certainly understand how a homosexual might hear his comment as a joke at the expense of homosexuals, while a heterosexual would hear it as jokingly saying he doesn't fool around on his wife or that he wasn't getting tested with Biden. I would hope that it is still possible to be non-homophobic and simultaneously not attracted to Joe Biden! Why not just ask him what he meant and take him at his word. There's no precedent for suggesting that he is prone to frat boy humor at the expense of homosexuals or other groups who are so often mistreated. Quite the opposite.

Posted by: HungChad on June 29, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Do you have a citation for Biden being seen in DC bath houses?

No, it was a deliberate slur. However, the Biden Center features a a modern bath house with showers, changing rooms, ...

Posted by: Brojo on June 29, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

>>> I thought of it exactly the same as you did--he wanted to clarify that he had not had an affair with another woman.

Me too. I thought exactly the same thing. And I thought he did a nice job of lightheartedly defusing that question.

Posted by: Lindy on June 29, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

It's entirely possible to make a gay joke without hating gay people, so perhaps that's what Obama was doing. But if he's some sort of homophobe, wouldn't it be a lot more obvious and not require something like this to reveal it?

Posted by: Brian on June 29, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Even if what he meant is, "I don't want anyone to get the impression I slept with Joe Biden," how would that be homophobic? There are lots and lots of reasons I wouldn't want people to think I slept with Joe Biden.

Posted by: Liberal Chris on June 29, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how to take the joke without it seeming, at minimum, to contradict the very message supposedly backed by both Biden and Obama, namely that people shouldn't hesitate to be tested for HIV. If it weren't to forestall some potential embarrassment over his being tested, why should Obama feel obliged to explain himself by the joke?

Not a major faux pas, I guess, but not exactly cool either.

Posted by: frankly0 on June 29, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just keep piling on Biden's lack of sexual attraction, y'all. Just keep it up. Poor Joe. Poor, unsexy Joe.

Posted by: shortstop on June 29, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Gee Brojo, not too homophobic are you? ("it was a deliberate slur").

Posted by: Ralph on June 29, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's primary season. That means that we can expect the defenders and critics of the various candidates to be just as goofy and ridiculous about their faux manufactured outrages as Republicans usually are.

snore.

Posted by: plunge on June 29, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Sully, I mean Disputo, the GOP is the natural home of lefty atheists, because they just can't tolerate government spending their money on fundamentalist boondoggles. Poor thing, you are like a fish out of water since the rethugs have turned on you.

Posted by: jussumbody on June 29, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand the "I was tested with my wife" thing. They don't do pairs testing. It's not like that 9-11 testimony where aWol insisted on having Dick sit with him.

Posted by: Rula Lenska on June 29, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Not saying I thought it was a gay joke, but those who did think so are being unfairly maligned here, for a perfectly valid and plausible interpretation..

After Biden mentioned that he and Obama both got tested, Obama seemed to be clarifying that he hadn't gotten tested WITH BIDEN, but with his wife.

Maybe you disagree with that take, but it hardly indicates an assumption that AIDS is still a "gay issue" et al

Posted by: Jay Smooth on June 29, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I took it to mean he didn't have an affair with another woman.

Posted by: jerry on June 29, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just keep piling on Biden's lack...

I swear to God, Shortstop, when I first read that, I read "Just keep piling on Biden's back. I apologize, I'm not homophobic, but I snorted anyway.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 29, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why is everything about gay sex for Lane Hudson? Seriously, though, I can understand taking that interpretation, but calling it "homophobic" is just political sniping.

Posted by: Tom on June 29, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Posted by: Steve Sailer on June 29, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen,

Obama was clearly indicating that he was not being tested because he had a relationship with Joe Biden. How it is possible to miss this in the context you, yourself, gave is a little baffling to me.

Was it a bit of homophobia? I doubt it. It seemed pretty f*&%ing funny to me.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 29, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Sully, I mean Disputo, the GOP is the natural home of lefty atheists

*Racist* atheists. Do try to keep up, will ya?

Posted by: Disputo on June 29, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

It is not even slightly homophobic for a straight married man to say "I did not sleep with Joe Biden." It's funny.

Posted by: Liberal Chris on June 29, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Do conservatives have GAY dreams?

Posted by: deejaayss on June 29, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

not being tested because he had a relationship with Joe Biden

It wouldn't have been a relationship. It would have been a night of pure, animal lust based on the come-hither irresistibility of Joe's hairplugs and caps.

Posted by: Piling On on June 29, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

So, you conservatives out there, do you have Gay dreams?

Posted by: deejaayss on June 29, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

If you conservatives have Gay dreams, it would explain a lot.

Posted by: deejaayss on June 29, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

John Edwards' face turned white when Obama and Biden started making the gay wisecracks.

Posted by: Ann Coulter on June 29, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Huh. It never occurred to me to think that when Obama said he had been tested with Michelle, he was saying he hadn't been tested with Biden. Thinking back, though, and taking into account his inflection, I think he may have been making the latter point.

But it was all very lighthearted and funny. The whole audience laughed. Of course, the audience could laugh at a mean joke too, but there was nothing mean about the way Obama spoke.

I don't think I would spend a lot of time on this. I don't think I would beat up on Joe either. He actually seems pretty entertaining to me. He won't be president, but we could do worse.

Posted by: THS on June 29, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Is it politically incorrect to say that one is not a homosexual?

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 29, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with you, Kevin. I didn't see the gay link. These days, it's not a gay disease. In fact, if you wanted to single out an at-risk category today, it's very much a black disease (although down-low in the jails is a significant contributor).

So I made the connection to infidelity.

Posted by: bob on June 29, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I only read about the line, but I had assumed that he was trying to clarify that he hadn't gotten tested with Biden, the implication being that the two Senators were not one another's sex partners at the time. So I also read it as a clarification that he'd not ever had sex with Joe Biden. I guess I can see in the abstract how that could be construed as an anti-gay remark, but I didn't see it that way at the time.

Posted by: PT on June 29, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

It is not even slightly homophobic for a straight married man to say "I did not sleep with Joe Biden." It's funny.

Yeah, but now to bolster his pro-gay bona fides, Obama is going to have to issue a statement that if he wasn't already married (to a person of indeterminant gender) he *would* sleep with Brad Pitt.

Posted by: Disputo on June 29, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Like Qwerty et al., I did first read the exchange as clarifying that Biden and Obama weren't sexual partners. The other common interpretation of denying infidelity also makes perfect sense. I suspect members of the audience were also reacting under varying interpretations.

I do not, however, understand why the former would be specifically homophobic. I could see the exact same exchange occurring between Biden and Clinton. The point of the humor, at least in my mind, is not that it is two men having sex but the two candidates having sex. It falls in to category of Rice referring to Shrub as her husband or whatever slip she made. Just as funny if one of your coworkers made an unfortunately worded statement implying sexual behavior about another coworker. Sophomoric to be sure but mildly humorous.

Frankly, if we get to the point where this sort of mild verbal backpedaling after a mistakenly implied homosexual statement is made represents the worst of homophobia, we are doing damn well as a society.

Posted by: cthulhu on June 29, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Just from reading this, I got the impression that he wanted make clear that he had never had sex with Biden. That hardly seem homophobic. Gay or straight, I'd want to be clear on that.

Posted by: urkel on June 29, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's comments didn't reflect "homophobia," but rather a phobia about what Fox News, Matt Drudge, swiftboaters and right wing talk show hosts would do with sound clips of him having an HIV test if it wasn't clarified. Despite the progressives' disdain for homophobic characters, Barack Obama probably needs the votes of tens of thousands of homophobes to become president in 2008. Listen to his message and watch his actions...Obama is enlightened and appreciates civil rights for all, euqally.

Posted by: FCD3 on June 29, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

I read the remark for the first time here, just now. My immediate thought was he didn't want to leave the impression he may have been exposed to AIDS with a woman other than his wife. Or leave the impression that Michelle wasn't aware he'd been tested, for whatever reason. Sometimes a conversation is just a conversation, and sometimes a joke is awkward, and nothing more. And not everything they say is worthy of a rant.

Posted by: troqua on June 29, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

I have to add my vote to the chorus saying that he was trying to be very clear, in a funny way, that he didn't get tested because he was sleeping around on his wife, or even at any other time.

I know November 2006 was a while back now, and many of us have forgotten the attack adds on Harold Ford featuring an attractive white woman, with the implication that Ford liked to "slut it up" with white women. I think that Obama at least remembers that attack ad, and that he wants to stomp on anything that could be used as inuendo along those lines. That might also explain the eagerness with which he clarified his experience.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on June 29, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Barak Hussein Obama is very homographic, Kevin. That is why he was so quick to retort.

Ask yourself, if you wanted to get AIDES tested because of your active gay lifestyle, would you do it in the States, where the press could get their hands on your records, or would you do it in Africa, where there would be much more secrecy.

Posted by: egbert on June 29, 2007 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

For a decade or more being tested for AIDS was almost solely identified with being gay. However, the disease has now spread to the straight community; and by and large by the same manner - unprotected sex. As far as I can see (read), this was simply two men saying that they had been tested for AIDS, Biden because of blood transfusions and Obama because of his efforts in Kenya to destigmatize the disease.
Now, be honest; had Obama not said with whom he had been tested, it would have taken 30 seconds for the far-right fringes to have the word spreading about how Obama didn't explain why or how he was tested. Therefore it must because he has AIDS or he fools around a lot. And for the next six weeks the Senator would have to spend most of his time trying to set the record straight. (No pun intended)

Posted by: Doug on June 29, 2007 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

See above post.

Posted by: Doug on June 29, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a good idea...if you have had sex in the past 15 years and plan to do it again (egbert, you are obviously off the hook here) get yourself an AIDS test, it's the grownup, (al is off the hook now) responsible thing to do.

Posted by: Northzax on June 29, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

PRETTY OBVIOUS

He was joking about the way Biden's remark made it seem as if he (Biden) and Obama were doing it with each other.

Next time THINK FOR FIVE SECONDS before posting. Thanks.

Posted by: JG on June 29, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

I had the same take on it -- that he was trying to make sure no one thought he had cheated on his wife. I don't think homosexuality was at all the issue -- and anyone watching it should remember he's talking about getting tested when he was in Africa where the majority of cases are heterosexual. I'm ultra-sensitive to this issue (my daughter is lesbian) and didn't pick up any hint of homophobia in his answer.

Posted by: tamar on June 29, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

As somebody who is not at all an Obama fan (am somewhat drawn to Rudy on the GOP side, am liking Biden more and more all the time on the Dem side), I agree 100% -- this was a simple, attempt-at-humor clarification that no extramarital shenanigans were going on, nothing more.

Trying to Monday-morning-quarterback any sort of reference to or revelation of homophobia is absurd at best, knee-jerk chasing shadows lowest-common-denominator partisanship at worst. And in reality surely a mix of both.

Posted by: Eric on June 29, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think that he was reassuring everyone he was not sleeping with Joe Biden. It's the way he emphasizes his wife's name. Given that Biden said he knew Obama got tested, it was a joke about their not going to a clinic to be tested together.

Imagine if a female candidate had said what Biden said. I think the joke still would have worked.

Also the way that Michelle and others clearly thought it was hilarious. Not the kind of laughter that would have come from a snarky, anti-gay remark. People might still have laughed at that, but the tone would have been different.

Posted by: expatjourno on June 29, 2007 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Obama makes a mistake a day . . . and some folks STILL hold that he's presidential timber.

Give him a few years . . . then perhaps revisit him.

Meantime, get serious.

Posted by: mistakeaday on June 29, 2007 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Obama makes a mistake a day . . . and some folks STILL hold that he's presidential timber.

Who let Matt Stoller in here?

Posted by: Disputo on June 29, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

We should be so lucky as to have a president whose mistakes are of the type and scale as Obama's remark. What a delight (and change) that would be.

egbert, are you for real? Obama was photographed being tested in Kenya. He certainly wasn't hiding. And homographic???

Posted by: THS on June 29, 2007 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

I, too, thought he was making a joke that he and Joe Biden were not tested together... that he has a wife.

Definitely NOT homophobic. A joke.

Gad, the interpretations people make no wonder we have so few quality people who want to run for president.

Posted by: Clem on June 30, 2007 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

Look, everybody, there's a difference between "homophobia" and two heterogenous men making a little joke about people thinking that they might have slept with each other. Come on, have a sense of humor; after all, would anybody accuse a gay man and a lesbian of bad-mouthing heterosexuals just because they made a joke about somebody thinking that they might have slept with each other?

Posted by: Ben on June 30, 2007 at 5:45 AM | PERMALINK

If Obama did make a homophobic remark, it certainly wasn't intentional. In Africa and much of the developing world, THE primary means of transmission of HIV is male-to-female sexual contact - about 66% of all cases worldwide can be chalked up to this. Check out these stats from the AVERT.org website (http://www.avert.org/worlstatinfo.htm):

"Globally, around 11% of HIV infections are among babies who acquire the virus from their mothers; 10% result from injecting drug use; 5-10% are due to sex between men; and around 5% occur in healthcare settings. Sex between men and women accounts for the remaining proportion at least two thirds of new infections."

It's only a "gay" disease in the West, and I can only assume it doesn't have a gay stigma in, say, Kenya. But it has that stigma here, which is why it's so easy to assume that Obama was making a homophobic comment.

For the record, I myself am gay, white, rooting for Obama or Edwards but would vote for Clinton if she got the nom. And I, too, have been tested - yesterday - and was negative. But unlike Mr. Obama, I didn't get tested with Michelle.

Posted by: JD in Baltimore on June 30, 2007 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

since Obama's soft touch comes across as gay one would hope it was 'somewhat' homophobic since that at least would indicate he's maybe not as gay as he sounds going by the premise that any straight guy worth his salt will always be a little bit homophobic - one would like to believe that if this guy unfortunately becomes president he won't be spending all his time composing nice sounding speeches.

Posted by: all man occasionally on June 30, 2007 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

It was homophobic. the African American community is virulently homophobic. This is what the african american community is discussing amongst themselves after the Imus debacle. They are trying to figure out why misogyny and homophobia are so pervasive in their community.

this is not a left right liberal conservative issue. This is an issue about a group of people and the predominating views that are publicly held.

Posted by: ken on June 30, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I just thought it was a joke about infidelity, not homophobia. I've long since stopped associating HIV/AIDS with gayness. It's just another STD to me.

Posted by: WeaverRose on June 30, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I am stunned by the number of people who do not see the obvious homophobic implications of Obama's reaction to Biden's comment. Obama was clearly alarmed by the (supposed) implications of Biden's comment. Otherwise he wouldn't have interrupted to make it perfectly clear that he got tested with his wife. And the implication he was afraid of was being gay, not being unfaithful. So, basically what we have here is a man who condemns homophobia, and then makes a show of pointing out that he's not gay. That's not an uncommon occurrence.

Posted by: G'kar on June 30, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

We're ALL laughing, dear hearts.

We're all laughing AT Obama.

He's such a dear, dear joke.

Posted by: jokester on June 30, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Look, also, at WHERE OBAMA AND HIS WIFE GOT TESTED.

In KENYA.

Where AIDS is not a "gay disease", it's EVERYONE's disease.

Barack Obama wasn't attacking gays, or AIDS victims, or anyone besides, perhaps, gently mocking the idea of him and Joe Biden -- whose attitudes towards black people got him in trouble recently -- would be knocking boots for any reason.

But I see that the usual right-wing trolls are gleefully showing up (many of them using fake "liberal" sock-puppet identities) in order to take advantage of the lefty circular firing squad.

Posted by: Phoenix Woman on June 30, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Perfectly reasonable for him not to want people to think he was having an affair with Biden.

People might want to change their vote if they thought this would mean Biden would be a strong influence on him if he won the presidency.

Posted by: catherineD on June 30, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I did NOT interpret Obama's comment as being 'homophobic'.

I already knew that Obama got tested in Africa, but that's because I followed his trip to Africa.

I see nothing wrong with him clarifying that he AND HIS WIFE got tested. Just by him saying that - is very big in the Black community.

Posted by: rikyrah on July 1, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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